Sept. 14, 2012
BLACKSBURG, Va. - With large, front-running packs leading the way, the nationally-ranked Florida State men's and women's cross country teams ran away from the competition at Friday's Virginia Tech Invitational/Pre-ACC meet.
Seniors co-captains Amanda Winslow and Violah Lagat led a 1-2 finish for Karen Harvey's third-ranked Seminole women, who actually put the first seven runners across the finish line over the rolling, 6-kilometer course. Florida State finished with a perfect score of 15 points, 50 better than runner-up host Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech was a distant third with 102.
The 10th-ranked Seminole men weren't quite as dominant, but left no doubt about the outcome. Freshman Zak Seddon wasted no time leaving a strong first impression, winning his NCAA debut. Seddon paced a 1-2-3 sweep by the Seminoles, followed by junior Jakub Zivec and senior Breandan O Neill. FSU's 19-point winning total easily outdistanced runner-up Virginia Tech (83) and third place Wake Forest (87).
"I was really pleased with the way our guys executed the race plan," FSU men's coach Bob Braman said. "We moved well from 5k to 8k and made up a 100-meter deficit. The pack stayed really close together until the last half-mile and that bodes well for the rest of the season."
Despite the lopsided winning margins, neither FSU squad raced from the opening gun, choosing instead to pack up early with a strong, steady pace before turning it up over the last two miles. Winslow and Lagat paced a large Seminole women lead pack through the first two miles before breaking the race open. They crossed the finish line in 21:14.21 AND 21:15.02, respectively.
"What a great day to race and get some hard work in," Harvey said. "It was perfect weather and the ACC course is in really good shape. As a whole I thought the team executed our race plans well and we finished a really hard week of training as well."
Senior Kayleigh Tyerman (21:20.20) was third, followed by sophomores Colleen Quigley (21:26.85) and Linden Hall (21:28.66). Senior Jessica Parry (21:32.98) and sophomore Aubree Worden (21:48.44) rounded out the top seven. Freshman Carly Thomas (11th, 22:09.40), grad student Jessica Butler (12th, 22:10.43) and senior Jennifer Dunn (15th, 22:22.32) gave the Seminoles 10 finishers in the top 15 spots.
Seddon, who starred for Great Britain on the junior world stage in steeplechase, led FSU's late breakaway pack across the finish line of the 8-kilometer race in 25:08.53. He was shadowed by Zivec (25:08.78), a junior enjoying a strong preseason, and O Neill (25:09.05), a senior.
Paul Lagno, a grad student transfer, finished fifth (25:13.85) overall and in front of all other ACC runners from Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech in the field. Redshirt freshman Will Bridges continued his impressive early-season performance with an eight-place finish (25:20.96), with junior transfer Josh Gracia ninth (25:33.49).
"Zak, Paul, Will and Josh have given us the depth that we didn't have last year," Braman said. "And it's great to have Kuba [Zivec] healthy and back to full strength."
Senior All-American David Forrester was 12th (25:36.09), as he continues to round his way into shape after missing much of the spring with a calf injury. The same holds true for senior Wes Rickman, who finished his first race since last year's NCAA Championship meet, in 42nd (26:13.6). Sean Quinn (57th, 26:42.9) rounded out the Seminole competitors.
"Dave and Wes are getting there and should be back leading the charge by Pre-Nationals," Braman said.
With a pair of controlled races under their belts, the Seminole teams will dial it up for their first all-out race assault at the Notre Dame Invitational in two weeks.
"The team is very excited to travel to Notre Dame in two weeks," Harvey said. "At Notre Dame we will joined by Georgia Peel and plan to race from the gun."